Danielle Spera was one of Austria’s most popular television personalities before becoming director of the Viennese Jewish Museum (JMW, http://www.jmw.at). Read here what Spera thinks about her very special farewell at national broadcaster ORF and if she misses working as anchorwoman.
What was your happiest moment being in charge at the Jewish Museum of Vienna – and what was the hardest?
Luckily there are so many happy moments and very few hard ones. I feel content whenever we are successfully opening a show, which always is a great teamwork. It is a wonderful experience to be able to work with a great group of curators, who support the new positioning of the museum now wholeheartedly. I also was very glad when we managed to get a budget to renovate the Jewish Museum’s main building, which was left to me in a devastating state – concerning the technical and logistical equipment…
Having just returned from the International Art Fair http://www.20-21intartfair.com/ in Kensington Gore, where I was particularly taken, indeed entranced by the Artists of Russia stand, it was great to see the quality exhibition of Nancy Pickard’s work together with that of Simon Turner at the Cornwall Contemporary here in Penzance. The Art Fair in London was great fun where I not only saw for the first time work of the German Expressionist, Käthe Kollwitz (July 8, 1867 – April 22, 1945) but also discovered the lovely paintings of Olga Oreshnikov. (http://www.artistsofrussia.com/olga-oreshnikov)
As Julian Ravest has written, “In 1990, Olga immigrated to Israel. She works in oil, tempera, watercolour, and gouache in a unique style. Her paintings are humorous, symbolic, and yet serious in content, meticulously executed and with a fresh and dreamlike quality. Her assured drawing, elaborate composition and rich use of colour are in the tradition of European painting. Her images and landscapes seem to be from a different timeless world, telling stories that are tender, dreamy, overpowering and seductive.” I was particularly taken by a work, an acrylic, called “Whispered Aside” which has a theatrical and magical quality about it. The expression on the face of the aging sailor and the slightly astonished young actress transported me to some imaginary dramatic venue in St Petersburg. The quality of execution in this painting too was quite extraordinary and delightful.
In “Garden Light”, Orishnikov has depicted an ingenue, endearingly innocent amongst a cavern of leaves, peering into the distance under her straw bonnet and surrounded by blossoming mauve flowerheads. She clasps her hands in a gesture that reinforces her distance as an observer and suggests her naivety. Tragicomedy, flora and contemplation combine in her work to embody an elegant exuberance. This is repeated in “Country Girl” where the girl cherishes a crimson sweet pea and beholds the blossom on the spindling stem.
Arriving this sunny morning at Sarah Brittain’s delightful gallery in Parade Street Penzance, my attention was drawn to Simon Turner’s bearded “Landlady” painted on found panel. Many of these pictures seem to have a Victorian or Edwardian quality, perhaps a little reminiscent of Monty Python. These reminded me a little of Adam Birtwistle’s portraits which I had recently seen displayed at King’s Place, http://whosjack.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/adam.png especially in relation to the horizontal structuring of the composition. Simon’s surreal playfulness shown in several zany mosaics are a nostalgic investigation into time, dream and reminiscence. I particularly liked “Man sending an e-mail”.
The exuberant compositions of Nancy Pickard, however, made the visit. Nancy, who has been in Cornwall for over ten years now is clearly influenced by the landscape and the sea. It is the blue luminescence of her inspiring canvases that drew my attention. It is the domestic peace of these compositions which attract the eye, which is echoed in her ceramics. Her delightful work may be viewed at http://www.nancypickard.co.uk/gallery.html
Our brand new cook book was finally unveiled at a party at the restaurant on Friday 17th May. Regular diners celebrated alongside journalists and leading figures from the Cornish hospitality industry, hosted by Executive Chef Michael Smith and the team.
As well as a Foreword written by Nathan Outlaw, whose restaurant in Rock holds two Michelin Stars, the book has been further endorsed by Heston Blumenthal. Heston, whose restaurant The Fat Duck consistently receives the highest accolades in the whole of the UK, was pleased to recommend Porthminster as a “favourite holiday eating spot of mine,” going on to praise “inventive cooking and a gorgeous location.”
We would like to thank Champagne Louis Roederer, Polgoon and Matthew Stevens & Son Fish for their sponsorship on the night.
The book is now available to buy from the restaurant and online.
Guests were served a taste of various recipes from the book, as well…
Since moving to Cornwall collecting seaglass has been a passion of mine and a hobby that can be enjoyed by the whole family. For those of you that don’t know, seaglass is otherwise known as beach glass or ‘mermaids tears’. It is old pieces of glass that have been discarded into the sea and have been broken and moulded by the sea tossing and turning them over the years turning the shards into frosted gems of glass. Cornwall has some of the best beaches in the world for searching for these hidden gems and can reveal a surprising array of different colours, shapes, sizes and types, many well over 100 years old. These can range from the rarest colours , orange , yellow and turquoise generally from tableware of the early 1900’s, to the more common greens and brown of the early wine and beer bottles and a huge range…
The publication of this collection of around forty short stories from Serpent’s Tail books affords the English speaking public a unique opportunity; that of reading Walser, possibly the leading modernist writer of Swiss German in the last century. He has received high praise in A Place in the Country, W.G.Sebald’s recently published posthumous collection and he is well-known as being a significant influence on Franz Kafka. His work here dates from 1907 to 1929 and along with his poetry won him recognition with Berlin’s avant garde. He combines lyrical delicacy with detailed observation; reflective melancholy with criticism of brash commercialism. The fine writing in this volume strives to achieve a hard won integrity together with an experimental capacity for reflection. It challenges the reader and provokes him to new insights.
Referring to Walser’s ten page account, Kleist in Thun, written in 1913 Susan Sontag in her introduction states, “Wasler often writes from the point of view of a casualty of the romantic visionary imagination”. Walser describes how Kleist, an intense poet of High German Romanticism arrives in a villa in the beautiful Bernese Oberland. Kleist is overwhelmed and disturbed by his own response to what appears to him as the artificiality of his surroundings, as though it were all a sketch by a clever scene painter in an album with green covers. “Which is appropriate. The foothills at the lake’s edge are so half-and-half green, so high, so fragrant”. The changes in the weather and the seasons are portrayed as Kleist struggles with his own historical writings which he is forced to destroy over and over. This piece portrays with sensitivity Kleist’s struggle for the peaceful moments when he can feel again the outright happiness of a child. All that now remains is a plaque on the wall to commemorate the poet’s visit.
Written over an extensive period these tales vary in tone from the surreal “Trousers” to the strange voyage of a captain, a gentleman and a young girl over the luminous course of the Elbe in “Balloon Journey”. In the more psychologically interesting “Helbling’s Story”, a bank clerk finds that he is feckless in time keeping and prefers the self-forgetfulness of dancing. His pursuit of his lively fiancée reveals that her sweetness tempered by her faithlessness. He seems caught between how he is perceived by his colleagues at the bank and his deep yearnings for isolation to the point of oblivion. There is a degree of Weltschmerz in some of these tales but worth the effort. Gradually, they repay the reader with their strange charm.
The longest story of sixty pages, “The Walk”, is an account of the writer venturing forth in his English yellow suit and recording his strongly felt impressions of the people, countryside and architecture that he encounters on a fine morning. As he gets into his stride, he remarks,” Spirits with enchanting shapes and garments emerged vast and soft, and the country road shone sky-blue, and white and precious gold”. Written in 1917, it also reveals his impressions of noisy cars passing by and of intrusive advertising in all its brashness contrasting with this rural idyll. He visits the post office, his tailor and goes to pay his taxes. Nothing escapes his eye, wild strawberry bushes, rivulets, the innocent play of children, honest black-jet dogs and he is almost hypersensitively given to reflect too upon the impression he makes upon others. Into this prose poem enter curious character like the odd lanky beanpole of a fellow called, Tomzack, who travels restlessly and devoid of human connection. Then with Swiss punctuality he dines with a cordial gracious lady that had previously been an actress. His self-justification and need for recognition attain huge and angry proportions when he negotiates his tax payments and it is at this point that his writing brings Kafka to mind. Out of this dense writing emerge passages with a sense of monumental grandeur and an awareness of transcending grace.
In addition to his value as a great writer, Robert Walser also affords the delights of entering a past world, that of Switzerland, a land isolated by the partial protection of its neutrality. The elegance of this past together with his sensitive impressions, including the already crowding and wearying pressures of commercialism, adds an extra level of piquancy. Joseph Roth, a well-known contemporary who also had a developed taste for irony, on arrival in Berlin, wrote in 1921, “The diminutive of the parts is more impressive than the monumentality of the whole”. In Walser’s writing we continually encounter this same fascination with the fine entrancing detail of small and beautiful things.
The cover image by August Sander shows three smartly dressed young farmers in Westerwald, although not entirely appropriate, makes an elegant jacket to these varied stories of imagination and vision.